Careers Service Occupations

Sports Science

Sports Science

About

The mix of scientific understanding and practical application gained from a degree in sports and exercise science means graduates can explore a range of diverse careers.

Careers advice

Industry news

Sources of industry news include:

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates.

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them and sector skills bodies on LinkedIn or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

Professional associations/institutes

For information relating to sports nutrition, visit the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr)The Nutrition Society and the British Dietetic Association, which has a specialist sports nutrition group.

For more information on dietetics as a career, visit Healthcare.

UK Sport Institutes and public bodies

Making contacts

Talk to people in the sector to get insight into roles in life and healthcare sciences. It can be useful for networking and making speculative applications

You could start with: 

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our Sport & Exercise Science Twitter list to follow professional bodies and practitioners.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. Regular events for this sector include BASES: Events, which includes their annual student conference.

There are also Employer Presentations and Recruitment Fairs. For more events for this sector see External Events

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Psychology, Food ScienceHealthcare or Leisure, Sports and Tourism.

Or see our other occupational pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

There are various opportunities open to you in a career in sport and exercise science. These include performance analysis and exercise physiology, sports nutrition and psychology.

Some sport-related careers may require further study at postgraduate level, eg for sports psychology. For some roles, a postgraduate qualification is not essential, but a Master’s or PhD in a relevant subject is becoming increasingly preferred.

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.

Sport and exercise scientist

Exercise physiologist

Sport and exercise biomechanist

Sports nutritionist

Sports therapist

Sport and exercise psychologist

Sport and exercise medicine consultant

Skills employers look for

Employers in this sector look for skills including:

  • a strong interest in sport, particularly in high performance
  • an analytical and investigative mind, with key technical skills and knowledge
  • strong written and verbal communication skills, with excellent attention to detail
  • an ability to lead and motivate self and others
  • an ability to work flexibly, prioritise your workload and be able to meet deadlines

Gaining Experience

Getting into sport and exercise science is highly competitive, particularly in elite sport.

Work experience can be difficult to find (especially paid internships), but can be invaluable in developing relevant skills and demonstrating your interest and commitment.

Make the most of any opportunity that you can get, including volunteering and shadowing, to help you make contacts and gain experience.

For help with funding short-term low or unpaid work experience, see our Career Insights Bursary.

Finding work experience

Sport clubs, eg rugby and football clubs, can offer internships and placement years in sport and exercise science. Check individual clubs for details, for example Newcastle United Foundation, which offers work experience and volunteering opportunities.

Smaller organisations often don’t advertise opportunities. You may need to contact them directly with a speculative approach. Do this early, as it can be very competitive. 

Professional bodies also advertise opportunities, including research, funding and studentships. See About for a list of organisations.

Internships

You can also find work experience by contacting university departments and research institutes.

The Physiological Society offers summer vacation studentships for research projects on an area of physiology.

MoveLab at Newcastle University researches the benefits of physical activity and exercise on health.

Finding companies

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch directly - always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for.

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Other opportunities

Coaching and fitness qualifications can be valuable. Having an understanding of the sport and the type of athletes and individuals you might meet can be excellent experience. It will help you apply for jobs in the future.

You could try:

For shadowing opportunities, you could try contacting Newcastle University’s Centre for Physical Recreation and Sport. The centre has a performance sport team, which may offer opportunities.

Finding Jobs

Sport and exercise science graduates work in a wide range of organisations. These include national governing bodies and UK Institutes of Sport, professional sports clubs and the food and drinks industry.

Opportunities are also available in academic research and scientific sectors, and also within the NHS and private healthcare, as exercise physiologists or nutritional therapists.

Use the following resources to find advertised vacancies and also research employers for speculative applications.

Professional bodies and sport institutes also advertise graduate positions. See About for a list of organisations.

For further sources of vacancies in universities and research institutions, see Research in Academia

Vacancy sites (sports related)

Vacancy sites (general)

For additional vacancy sites, visit Graduate Jobs.

Finding companies

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch directly - always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for.

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.